Throughout history gold has often been used as money and, instead of quoting the gold price, all other commodities were measured in gold. After World War II a gold standard was established following the 1946 Bretton Woods conference, fixing the gold price at $35 per troy ounce.
The system held up until 1971 Nixon Shock, when the US stopped the direct convertibility of the United States dollar to gold. Since 1968 the usual benchmark for the price of gold is known as the London Gold Fixing, a twice-daily (telephone) meeting of representatives from five bullion-trading firms. Furthermore, there is active gold trading based on the intra-day spot price, derived from gold-trading markets around the world as they open and close throughout the day. The following table sets forth the gold price versus various assets and key statistics:
The price of silver has been notoriously volatile as it can fluctuate between industrial and store of value demands. At times this can cause wide ranging valuations in the market, creating volatility.
Silver often tracks the gold price due to store of value demands, although the ratio can vary. The gold/silver ratio is often analyzed by traders and investors and buyers. Over most of the 19th century, the gold/silver ratio was fixed by law in Europe and the United States at 1:15.5, which meant that one troy ounce of gold would buy 15.5 ounces of silver . The average gold/silver ratio during the 20th century, however, was 1:47.0.
From September 2005 onwards, the price of silver has risen fairly steeply, being initially around $7 per troy ounce but reaching $14 per oz. for the first time by late April 2006. The monthly average price of silver was $12.61 per ounce during April 2006, and the spot price was around $15.78 per ounce on November 6, 2007. As of March 2008, it hovered around $20 per troy ounce. However, the price of silver plummeted 58% in October 2008, along with other metals and commodities, due to the effects of the credit crunch.